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Researchers and clinicians

Using the CRIS database for research

C&I uses software that takes electronic clinical records and automatically feeds them into the CRIS research database.  The “inputs" include structured data, such as tabulated Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores, and free-text data, such as progress notes and letters.  As the data are sent to the research database, they are rendered anonymous, using a linked-anonymised (pseudonymised) method.

All records in the research database are identified only by a research ID number.  There are no names, exact dates of birth, C&I hospital numbers, or NHS numbers.  Only C&I can de-anonymise the information.  The database retains details of sex, age (month and year of birth), diagnoses, medication, and so on, including searchable free text.

With the permission of C&I, researchers can use the database for epidemiological and service evaluation studies.  They simply search it, analyse the data, and publish (the database has generic ethical approval for studies of this type, a separate ethical opinion is not required).  For example, a putative association between two diseases might be examined in this way. 

Future development

Future development of the database will add capabilities for researchers to use the database for service user-contact research.  They will be able to search the database for anonymous service users who might be suitable for their study.  They may then request the service users’ details (if the service user has consented to this) in order to write to them to view their C&I clinical record, or address their first request to the patients’ clinicians.  Either way, they only receive service users’ identifiable information where the service user has consented. Research of this type will require an independent ethical opinion in addition to the generic favourable opinion applicable to the database itself.

Please note that service users are not currently routinely being asked to express a consent mode and the database is currently in use primarily for epidemiological and service evaluation research only. 

Access to the database

If you would like further information about using the CRIS database at C&I for a project, please contact the C&I Research Database Manager by email researchdatabase@candi.nhs.uk or telephone 020 3317 3536.

If you would like to submit an application for permission to use the C&I database for a research project, please download the project application form.


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